Ruodlieb - Encyclopedia

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RUODLIEB, a romance in Latin verse by an unknown German poet who flourished about 1030; he was almost certainly a monk of the Bavarian abbey of Tegernsee. The poem is one of the earliest German romances of knightly adventure, and its vivid picture of feudal manners gives it a certain value as an historical document. The poet was probably an eye-witness. of the episode (11.4231-5221) which represents the meeting of the emperor Henry II. with Robert of France on the banks of the Maas in 1023. Ruodlieb was left unfinished, and furthermore the MS. was cut up and used for binding books, so that the fragments were only gradually discovered (from 1807 onwards) and pieced together. The framework of the story is borrowed from a popular indrawn of the youth who takes service away from home, and is paid in wise saws instead of current coin. He receives at the same time a loaf, with instructions not to cut it until he is once more at home. This contains the coins. The proverbs, usually three in number, were increased in Ruodlieb to twelve, each of which was the starting-point of an episode by which the hero was made to appreciate its value.

For examples of the three-proverb tale see W. Bottrell, Traditions and Hearthside Stories (Penzance, 2nd series, 1873); Cuthbert Bede, The White Wife ... (London, 1868); K. V. K. [illinger], Erin (Stuttgart and Tubingen, 1849), and others in the French romance of the Saint Graal, in the Gesta Romanorum (the three proverbs bought by Domitian) and the old French Dit des trois pommes. The best edition of Ruodlieb is by F. Seiler (Halle, 1882). There is a modern version by M. Heine (Leipzig, 1897), and a full analysis of the contents is given by R. Koegel, Gesch. d. deutschen Lit. bis rum Ausgange des Mittelalters (Strassburg, 1894-97, ii. pp. 342-412).

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